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Elton's third album of the 1980s. Time for major rethink!
on 28 October 2003
By the end of 1981 through to February 1982, Elton was recording at the Air Studios in Montserrat with producer Chris Thomas with what became the "Jump Up" album. By April '82 the record was on the shelves. Very much cut from the same cloth of his two previous albums ("21 at 33" and "The Fox") he continued to collaborate with various lyricists, the songwriting had the emphasis on quantity rather than quality, and the album's artwork still was rather uninspiring. However, one of the strengths of Elton John's oeuvre, that even at his worst he was still very much capable of some worthwhile moments on record.
Whilst not the worst Elton John album (that accolade must surely go to the derisory "Victim of Love") "Jump Up" is representative of Elton's creative nadir he was experiencing in the early 80's.
The problem lay in the fact that since 1979 Elton had acquired lyrics from various sources, all whom had different world-views, and stylistically were ,in many respects, poles apart. This wasn't necessarily a bad thing, but Elton's melodic approach didn't focus on any cohesion. This was hinted at on the last two albums but with "Jump Up" it as all too apparent.
Still, like all Elton's albums...there were fine moments: "Empty Garden" a tribute to John Lennon was, along with "All Quiet On The Western Front", one of Taupin's best lyrics since the 70s peak and a major return to form. "Princess" and "Blue Eyes" were melodies of Elton's that complemented well to Osbourne's lyrical simplicity. The early pairing of musical wordsmith Tim Rice with Elton for "Legal Boys" was decent enough and even the poppy Motown tribute "Where Have All the Good Times Gone?" earned it's place. Now, even with these good songs, they just sat very uneasily with each other.
The rest was just not good enough. "I am your robot" is possibly the worst John/Taupin song in their catalogue, and the dreary "Dear John" and "Spiteful Child" just plod along.
One astonishing fact is that Elton gave up some fairy good songs in the "Jump Up" sessions to B-sides ("Take Me Down To The Ocean" "Hey Papa Legba" "The Retreat") all should have been on the original album in my opinion.
This album is for completists only. It isn't the worst but the significant thing one can say with this album is that, by its release, it finally brought Elton and Bernie together to make a fully realised and more collaborative effort since Captain Fantastic which was "Too Low For Zero".